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“Great Experience across the Board”
Review of Kapama River Lodge

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Kapama River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
79 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Great Experience across the Board”
Reviewed 5 January 2014

My first experience in South Africa was at the Kapama Private Game Reserve – River Lodge. It was an excellent choice for our introduction into this very special lifetime experience of going on safari.

We arrived at Hoedspruit airport about 2pm and where else do you get picked up at the airport in an open safari vehicle! Awesome! Every time you come and go from the lodge you are on safari, we saw many animal sightings every time we went to an activity, another lodge or to/from the airport. Even on the airport runway there were vervet monkeys. The small Hoedspruit (Eastgate) airport reminded me of some of the small airports in Hawaii or the South Pacific.

When you check into the lodge it is very common to sit in big comfy sofas as a member of the reception staff explains the safari schedule, the meal schedule, activities and generally how things work. Then they give you your keys to your suite, tent or often a thatched chalet. I was travelling with my sister, as we were taking a short vacation before we met our group in Cape Town and lead a trip across South Africa. During this meeting at Kapama we were mixed in with a large group from the USA who were only staying for one night. My horror, I was so thankful we were at this beautiful place for 4 glorious days. I guess 1 night is better than nothing but you really need a minimum of 3 nights to fully soak in where you are and the magic and the atmosphere and all the things these types of lodges have for you to do. We did find out later that they could only come for 1 night due to bookings, so book early to not be disappointed. The Kapama River Lodge is the largest lodge in the greater Kruger area, it seemed to be full to capacity, especially at safari time and dinner time when everyone gathered. Otherwise, it was so spread out that even though it was full or near full it was quiet seemed empty. River Lodge has about 64 rooms and spa suites, even though it is large by safari lodge standards it is still less than 150 guests max.

SAFARI: All of our Safaris with Kapama were nothing short of magic. Even while we were driving around I would be thinking to myself…”this is unbelievable”. Our ranger was Harry and our tracker was Eric. Harry was our protector, you always felt you were in very capable hands yet, he is probably one of the most gentle souls I have ever met. Eric was fun and very cute more of a character! They were a fantastic team. On the usual safari activities we saw tons of wildlife and at least one excellent sighting, such as a female Lion & her cubs nursing, or being surrounded by a herd of active elephants and then the ever so sought after lions actively hunting! This is why you need a few days. Three nights give you 6 game drives (one in the morning and one at night). You certainly have the possibility of seeing the Big 5 (Lions, Leopards, Rhinos, Cape Buffalo & Elephant) as well as lots of birds, giraffe, zebra. Being there at the end of November and into December brought especially rich bird sightings and tons of babies of all the mammals. It is greener and there more foliage at this time of year but the animal babies were amazing. Each season has its pros and cons. The safari vehicles were open with a possible 10 seats, on some game drives we did have a full vehicle. We were very lucky to have great safari mates that made sure everyone could see, take photos at the sightings and rotate seats. Harry also made sure each side of the vehicle got a good sighting at each photo op (which seemed to be every 2 minutes!).

ROOMS: I find that right away I can walk into a hotel room and either feel, excited, impressed, immediately comfortable, let down or eck! When I walked in I was somewhere between excited and immediately comfortable. Exactly where I wanted to be after the long flight from Canada. The room was classic safari with lots of wood trim, stone floors and a big leather club chair by two large doors leading to the terrace where a family of Nyala (antelope) were grazing peacefully outside our door, nice! The beds were my ever so appreciated white puffy duvets and two large pocket doors led into the huge bathroom. Where there was a large glass shower stall, separate loo, two sinks, a huge soaker tub in front of a picture window that you could open up to have only screens. Thank you for this room…. It was always nice to come home to.

FOOD: Meals were plentiful and meal time was never a long wait at Kapama. Our dining ‘Ranger’ was Amos and he was a true gem. He was so attentive, friendly and always was there to specially greet me into the dining room. He will always make me smile when I think of him and look at his picture. He is a great ambassador for Kapama. The venues were both very nice. There was an outdoor boma (barbeque) dining room as well as a beautiful main dining room that had both indoor and outdoor seating. Both had the true African feeling you are looking for on safari in terms of décor and were also always clean and appetizing. The food was high quality, delicious and a good amount of choice without being so daunting that you over ate if you wanted to try most items (a usual buffet disadvantage). I tried my first warthog, bobotie and pap. The fresh breads and soups were also worth a special note. All of our meals were served buffet style, but again, they were nicely done and excellent quality and choice. Usually buffet is not something I enjoy and I did enjoy the meals at Kapama.

ACTIVITIES: There lots of activities that could keep energetic guests very busy. We didn’t get to the spa or even the pool but we did take advantage of Camp Jabulani and the endangered species centre. Camp Jabulani is an on-site centre where you can go meet African elephants! Yes, the mighty and beautifully huge African elephants! You can use one of your game drive mornings and do your safari from the heights of elephant back!! This was a splurge but worth every penny. The elephants there are gorgeous and very well looked after. They were all orphaned or rescued from negative situations. They explain all about how the camp started at the safari orientation and ‘meet the elephants’ part of the morning.

Everyone was at least middle aged like me and up in age so it is not just for the young. A few guests had bad knees and had slight mobility disadvantages and they were up on those elephants enjoying this chance of a lifetime. The elephants had very nice purpose built saddles and they were very comfortable for us to sit atop, they had stirrups for stability and handles to hold onto. There were two guests plus a handler on each elephant. They brought them around to a platform where these absolutely huge elephants were loaded and then you were off. The ride was at least an hour.

It was about a 20 min drive to get there from River Lodge. We were lucky to have an off-duty Ranger ‘Jacks’ to drive us, as we had to go during our usual game drive time so Harry was occupied, and Jacks showed us many great general mammal, bird and insect sightings on the way. Any guest would be so lucky to have him as a Ranger as well. He was extremely passionate about the safari experience and full of descriptive stories. If he was your ranger you would have a truly amazing experience.

While at Kapama, they were very hospitable and showed us around to the other lodges in this private game reserve, they were the; the small and intimate Buffalo camp, serene Southern Camp and the newest & exquisite Karula Lodge. They were all fantastic and fit into different demographics perfectly. These three lodges were probably located more into the game-rich areas of the huge reserve, so animal sightings directly from these lodges were very possible and we saw some even during our short visits.

We were very happy at our home at Kapama River Lodge. For our needs and this trip Kapama River Lodge was the perfect choice for two single girls looking for adventure. It was my first safari experience in Africa and it was absolutely amazing. Everyone was enjoying themselves. The food, rooms, public spaces and full safari experience was all at an equal high (5 star) standard. Some of the other game reserved we visited (fenced and unfenced) during our trip to South Africa had better points as well as lower points so I give them 5/5 for the best all-round safari experience of the four lodges we visited on this trip. You won’t be disappointed. Thanks Mandy and Harry and all our favorites at Kapama River Lodge! We will return.

Room Tip: I think we were just in a regular room and it was fantastic. The spa rooms are a little more expens...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with friends
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7 Thank Nancy Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Atlanta
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2014

My boyfriend and I visited South Africa on vacation. I have visited many countries and continents; however, this is my favorite resort I have ever stayed in. The grounds are beautiful and the rooms are amazing. The views could not be beat! When we were shown to our room, the concierge told us not to worry if a giraffe stuck it's head on our balcony. The staff was very welcoming and accommodating. You are assigned a game driver and he knows your name when he picks you up from the airport. We had John as our guide and could not have been more pleased. On the game drives, he went out of his way to make sure we saw our favorite animals. On our last game drive, my boyfriend and I were the inky ones and we spent four hours tracking down a heard of elephants. By hour three we were all a little slap-happy, but it just made it better! He was also not afraid of off roading, which I thought was great! Not only was John very knowledgeable about the grounds and the animals, he also talked with us about his life and the culture of the city we were in. Being a teacher, I had lots of questions about the schools and he answered every question I had. I could not have asked for a better guide. If I ever get back to South Africa, I would love to stay at this resort again.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank Sarah B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 December 2013

We chose to stay 3 nights at Kapama River Lodge after a thorough research on Trip Advisor and are happy as our stay will be one of our memorable holidays. We were greeted by our ranger Rassie at the airport and accompanied by him on all 6 game drives.Rassie is very knowledgeable and experienced. He made the most to show us all of the animals on the reserve and made sure we did not skip any birds,insects and plants.We saw the big 5 and many many more through his willingness and expertise.I think on a safari the ranger on your game drive is most important and Rassie made all possible to make our experience a most enjoyable and memorable one. Thank you Rassie!

The Kapama River Lodge personnel are all very accomodating and ready to serve at all moments.Breakfast,lunch and dinners were delicious and varied. The rooms are big and housekeeping was perfect. The spa was a terrific experience as well.I had the most relaxing stone massage in my life. The lodge is very very near the Eastgate airport that also makes access to the lodge very easy.

I recommend Kapama River Lodge to everyone who is looking for a holiday with no bad surprises as everything there was so much under control of experienced staff.

Room Tip: We had room number 6 and were happy to watch some animals visit the greens just out of our balcony.
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank turkishflavours
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
53 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 December 2013

We stayed at Kapama for 3 nights and because we had to leave early in the morning missed our final drive - despite this we loved every minute and still spent 17 hours out on safari.
The lodge is a great place to stay, the rooms are clean and well serviced the food seems to ne never ending, we decided to skip lunch to give our waistlines a break. The safaris were amazing, our guide Rassi was informative, friendly and amusing and took us very close to the animals whilst always respecting them. We felt very safe in his care and would recommend the River Lodge as a wonderful place to stay.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Doc061
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 December 2013

Our stay was just magical from the moment Rassie met us at the airport through our game drives.We were lucky to see all the big five, and so close. The meals were all excellent and enjoyed in good company.All the staff where well trained and friendly.The only down side was the small beds in our room.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Celia G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Salisbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
311 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 December 2013

How do I describe the fantastic 4 days we spent here? The room was lovely and as you lie in the bath you can see Warthogs and Nyala grazing outside in the bush. The food was excellent and very varied with dinner in the Rhino Boma being extra special. We had two game drives each day with an amazing guide and tracker who made everything so interesting and special. My husband went on an Elephant Safari and I spent a totally relaxing and pampering 4 hours in the Wellness centre having a Marula Miracle Moments Signature experience whilst watching a hippo in the lake and a Kudu gently grazing. All the staff were so polite, helpful and extremely well trained. All in all a very special experience.

Room Tip: We had Room 14 on the first floor overlooking the game reserve
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank HoneyD337
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Surfers Paradise, Australia
Level Contributor
96 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 December 2013

Well trained friendly staff, enjoyed the safari, food and location. We saw a rhino the moment we entered the reserve, and every time we went out we another highlight. Our room was a little dated but the facility was fine and there was always more than enough food.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank thatkiwijoker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kapama River Lodge

Property: Kapama River Lodge
Address: R40 | Kruger Park, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Kapama Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Kapama Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Kapama River Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 64
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kapama River Lodge is situated within Kapama Game Reserve, and presents the perfect blend between luxurious safari accommodation and a generous bed capacity of 64 bedrooms. Although large, it is so stylish, roomy and beautifully positioned along a dry riverbed, that guests fall in love with it. Each spacious room at Kapama River Lodge features a full en-suite bathroom and terrace with uninterrupted views into the leafy-green Big 5 game reserve. The central guest entertainment areas include a large rim-flow swimming pool with sun umbrellas and recliners for lazy afternoons. The long L-shaped relaxation lounge and bar under a double-volume thatch, curves around the pool and on either side is a huge double-sided fireplace creating a wondrous open-plan yet cosy atmosphere. The Rhino Boma dining area with tables arranged under a low thatch in a horseshoe curve, has a central open space where a roaring outdoor fire gives a glow to evening meals. Buffet-style meals introduce African flavours with Pan African dishes using fresh local ingredients and specialist dishes. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kapama River Hotel Kapama Private Game Reserve
Kapama River Lodge Kapama Private Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

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